The Nine Lives of Otto Katz by Jonathan Miles - review by Victor Sebestyen

Victor Sebestyen

Not So Secret Agent

The Nine Lives of Otto Katz


Bantam Press 366pp £20 order from our bookshop

Many readers who may not have heard of Otto Katz will have had strong feelings about the fictional character based on him. Millions of women have probably swooned over him; men have envied his courage, his courtliness – and the fact that in the last reel he gets the girl, who happens to be Ingrid Bergman. Katz was the model for the heroic Czech freedom fighter Victor Laszlo in the classic film Casablanca.

In the movie, Laszlo flies off amid the fog to continue the struggle against the Nazis. There is also a shroud of fog surrounding Katz. Playboy, charmer, intellectual, spy, Stalinist, sophisticated conman, fabulist, a man of at least a dozen aliases – in an age of tragic drama,

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